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Day of Gruesome Texas Trial Wraps Up

Aired June 24, 2003 - 20:27   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: This was day two of a gruesome trial in Texas. A woman is accused of hitting a homeless man with her car, then leaving him stuck on her windshield to slowly bleed to death.
Ed Lavandera is covering the case and joins us right now to bring us up to date and what happened in court today and I understand there were a lot of gasps from those watching what happened in the courtroom today and listening to this very graphic testimony.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it was quite an ending to the day of testimony as Chante Mallard's boyfriend, Clete Jackson who has already pleaded guilty for his involvement in this case, he pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence. He has admitted to moving the body of 37-year-old Greg Biggs who was hit by Chante Mallard and dumping the body in a nearby park so it could be found.

He is serving ten years in prison for, as I mentioned, pleading guilty to tampering with evidence and that's what brought him to the courthouse here in Fort Worth today.

Also just before the jury had heard from Clete Jackson, they also had been shown parts of the car as evidence as to where exactly Greg Biggs had landed in the car and where blood had splattered all over the inside of the car as well.

But Jackson talked about how he had seen Mallard at a nightclub here in the Fort Worth area the night the accident happened and that she didn't appear normal, that as her defense attorneys had pointed out she had been drinking, was high, had taken ecstasy and had been smoking marijuana and Jackson said that she looked very strange.

Also saying that after she had left the club and after hitting Biggs that she had called him some 20 times saying that she needed his help with something very important but Mallard couldn't bring herself to tell him. This is what Jackson is saying, to tell him exactly what had happened.

Even as she was dragging Jackson into the garage to show him the car he still had no idea what he was about to see and that's where pick up the testimony from the witness stand.


CLETE JACKSON, DEFENDANT'S FRIEND: Dang, what did you hit? What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did she tell you what she hit then?

JACKSON: She couldn't just really flat out say what she did. I mean she was still crying. The closer I'd get to the car the more we talked the worse she cried so I went and opened up the car door. At the same time I opened up the car she was like I hit somebody and he's still in the car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, she's saying that just as you're opening the door?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did you see in the car?

JACKSON: The dude.


LAVANDERA: Now, one of the things the defense attorneys for Chante Mallard have been trying to do is to paint her as someone who became extremely hysterical given the condition she was in after having spent the night drinking and doing drugs and that she became more hysterical and being very scared of what was going to happen next. Clete Jackson talked a lot about that, essentially saying that everyone just lost their minds.


JACKSON: At the time, I mean, he was -- he was already deceased. And my mind was just really one track. It wasn't all of these different possibilities and all of these different -- it was just basically a one decision. And it wasn't -- I didn't stop to think. None of us stopped to think "what if." We was scared. We panicked. I just did what I thought that was best.


LAVANDERA: Clete Jackson says that he tried to put the body in a place where it could be found so that his family could find the body and be able to bury him. But Clete Jackson also says the next day, when he spoke with Chante Mallard, that she talked about killing herself. But one thing the prosecutors would probably point to is that through all of this testimony, you didn't hear a lot of talk about anyone, anyone who was with Chante Mallard that night talking about calling the police, or calling 911 for help -- Paula.

ZAHN: And isn't that a point that you think was made pretty powerfully today by the prosecution, that there were a number of opportunities that this young woman had to seek help for this man?

LAVANDERA: Absolutely. You know, one of the interesting things that come out -- they do remind people she is a former nurse's aide, and one of the things that came out in testimony today is that her brother is actually a firefighter with the Ft. Worth Fire Department. So almost a suggestion out there that she more than anyone perhaps should have at least known what to do in this situation. We have also heard from medical experts saying that if anyone had called 911 much earlier, after that accident had happened, that Greg Biggs would have been saved, that the injuries that he suffered in the impact would not have killed him. What killed him is when he bled to death sitting in Chante Mallard's garage -- Paula.

ZAHN: Finally, before I go, Ed, just a real quick thought on how jurors seem to be reacting to this really awful testimony?

LAVANDERA: The most powerful stuff obviously are the pictures of the crime scene and that sort of thing. On several occasions we know the jurors have kind of turned away from seeing those pictures. So obviously, those are the most impactful moments for this jury.

ZAHN: I don't blame them. We've just seen a small fraction of what they saw in the courtroom tonight, and I think it was hard for all of us to watch as well. Ed Lavandera, thanks so much for the update.


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